Living The Dream

Chapter two. Grace faces a hard time switching to Art. She discovered it was all worth it, at least she now has Daniel by her side all thanks to Art.

Chapter two

"After the assembly, which seemed unending with Mrs. Aisha's endless speech about the activities and plans for the academic calendar of the third term, we moved into our various classes, starting from the JSS1 students, looking elegant and graceful in their white short sleeves and khaki brown skirts and shorts for the boys. There was this aura they had around them. Most of them felt like they had made it in life in Better Days High School. It was indeed a privilege to be a student of my school. It was one of the best schools in town, and most of our teachers are foreigners and schooled abroad, including the Nigerian among them". 

After the assembly, I excused myself from my friends, pretending that I needed to use the school toilet. I was going to the school administrative block, where I could be switched by the admin's head, Mr. Bello. I couldn't bring myself to tell my friends about my leaving them; I was ashamed and felt they would look down on me and wouldn't want to associate with me anymore. As I walked toward the building, I could hear my name called from behind. I turned back, and behold, it was Daniel, my crush, for a while now. I started to blush and hoped he couldn't notice. But wait, why is he all of a sudden wanting to talk to me? I wondered as I stood waiting as he approached me. I had noticed he was staring at me while the assembly was ongoing, but then I didn't want to get wrong ideas into my already filled head. He was new, having joined us in the second term. He is a science student and is in SS1B while I am in SS1D. He seems to come from a wealthy home, judging from the Car that drops him off every day at school, the wristwatch he has on and the perfume on him, and everything about him displays money.

"Hey, what's up," he said and smiled, revealing his dimples on both sides. My knees went weak at the sight of his dimples. I love those, and even though my dad had them, I wasn't opportune to get them, but then two of my brothers had them.

"I'm okay," I replied and also smiled back at him.

"You don't look okay, Grace. What's the Matter?" He asked calmly, looking into my eyes.

I couldn't look at him and stared at my toes instead.

"I'm really okay" are you also heading towards the admin block? I asked him, trying to change the topic.

"Yea, I am. That was why I called you cause I saw you were moving in that direction, so I wanted us to walk together if you don't mind?" He replied as we walked side by side.

"Why would I mind," I thought, seeing he expected an answer. I smiled and said I didn't mind and that I actually loved his company. He looked sharply at me at the last statement but didn't say a word. From the tail of my eyes, I could see that he had a worried look on his face, and I immediately regretted saying those words and wished I could take them back.

"So, what do you want to do at the administration block?" I asked and succeeded in snapping him out of whatever was on his mind.

"Oh, nothing much. I want to meet Mr. Bello to help me change from offering Marketing to Data Processing". He said

"Oh, and why is that?" I asked, interested.

"Well, I don't seem to understand the subject, and I also feel it isn't really related to what I want to study at the University." He replied confidently.

"Why are you also going there?" He asked.

"Oh, well, I want to. I don't want to lie to him, and he is sure to find out anyways; trust my classmates to blab about it around the school. He stopped and turned to stare at me, still expecting a reply. I took a deep breath and said, " I am switching over to Art class."

I couldn't tell if he was shocked cause his face was expressionless. I started to cry and ran away from him, not knowing where I was going. I could hear him call my name as he ran after me, but I didn't care. I just wanted to get away from the school as far as possible. I ended up crying in one of the abandoned classrooms at the far end of the school. Daniel lost sight of me, and I knew he was still looking for me and would soon find me. I was sitting on one of the spoilt chairs in the classroom that could support my weight and buried my face in-between my laps as I cried. I felt the presence of someone at the door and looked up in time to see Daniel leaning on the door, trying to catch his breath from all that running. He looked vulnerable as he stood there, breathing heavily. I guessed he wasn't used to running. Why would a rich kid be running anyways? I wondered as I watched him. He looked up and saw that I was watching him, and he felt ashamed. He smiled sheepishly, trying to hide the shame he felt, and started to walk toward me. He stopped right in front of me and stood silently for a while, watching me cry. He then sat very close to me and handed me his handkerchief. I collected it and wiped my face with it; I could smell his perfume on it.

"Hey. It's okay". He said gently.

I looked at him, a bit confused by what he meant. Fresh tears started to drop, and before I could wipe them away, his hand was already on my face wiping away the tears gently.

"Hey, Don't cry. I can't bear to watch you cry. It's going to be fine, trust me". He said, smiling.

"It's hard for me, Daniel," I said. My voice was all shaky and hoarse from crying.

"Sshhhh," he said and placed a finger on my lips. "Don't say that. You can do it. I have faith in you. I have watched you from the moment I entered this school, and you are one of the smartest, bravest beautiful, and most intelligent girls I have seen, Grace. I liked you the moment I saw you, and ever since I had always watched you and had always wanted to talk to you, my shyness had the best of me. It took me all the courage I had to call your name today and approach you". I was dumbfounded. What did he mean by he had a liking for me the moment he saw me". I could feel butterflies in my stomach, and it was suddenly becoming hot in the classroom. And what sound was I hearing? Was it my heartbeat or his heartbeat? I couldn't tell. My tears dried up, and I suddenly felt calm and at ease.

I smiled at him and told him I felt the same way for him, but I wasn't ready for a relationship yet and could only be friends with him. I have heard people say that secondary school relationships don't last and are mostly childish. But I didn't tell him That. He held my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze before saying it was fine by him so long I felt the same way for him; it doesn't matter what we are. I smiled and hugged him. He wasn't expecting that; I felt him shiver at my touch.

I narrated what transpired between my dad and me and the challenges I had personally with physics and further maths. He was a good listener. I could tell from the way he listened and never interrupted me while I was talking. He agreed with my dad to give Art a chance this term and jokingly added that I also give him a chance. I laughed at that and gave him a gentle squeeze on the hand. He pretended to be hurt and demanded I kiss him on the cheek to stop the pain. He could tell that I was now relieved and back to my normal self. He then suggested we head back to the admin block to get our business done. I knew that instance that everything was going to be okay. As we approached the building, we could hear the school bell ringing, signaling the end of the first period. I didn't know we spent much time and told Daniel that we had both missed the first class that morning because of what I had done. He assured me it wasn't my fault. After all, he had the best time of his life with his girlfriend. He added jokingly, and I gave him a light punch on his shoulder for saying that. But somehow, I was happy hearing that word from him.

Before coming to him, Mr. Bello was shocked at my request and demanded I visit the school guidance counselor, Mrs. Ngozi. I told him that it was a decision I had already taken and didn't need any advice. I was certain I wanted to switch to art. He then scribbled something quickly on a note and instructed me to give the principal without going through it.

Mallanma Aisha, as she prefers to be addressed, was deep in thought after reading through the note. Suddenly she motioned me to sit down, which I did quietly, and I waited eagerly for her to break the silence, which made me uneasy.

"Why are you requesting to switch to Art, miss Grace Williams?".

"My dad wants it, and I am willing to abide," I replied.

"You are well aware of the fact that you are one of the best students we have. You have always made our school proud. You have represented us well, and we are proud of you. You have a beautiful future ahead of you, and I won't want it ruined. Tell your father I want to see him in my office tomorrow. It's urgent. You can go back to your class and continue with your subjects. Have a nice day Grace. She said and continued with whatever it was she was writing before I came into her office. I stood up and left. Daniel was waiting outside her office for me.

"How did it go in there?". He asked

"She requested to see my father," I said, and he knew what that meant.

"It's going to be okay," he assured me and held my hand as we went back to our different classes.

The next day my dad came to school in the morning, after much persuasion from my mum and me. He was so angry that my school was challenging his decision over his only daughter. " What right do they have?" He asked, fuming with anger. How could they not see that you are battling with passing the so-called science?" He asked no one in particular. Why do you care only about their reputation and not the welfare of the children in their care?".

I went to the office with him to see the principal. She was not around, and we waited for her. She came in a few minutes later and apologized for keeping us waiting, saying she had to attend to the latecomers kneeling at the front of the school gate. She sat down and went straight to the reason she had asked to see him.

"Sir, your daughter is very bright, and we are glad to be given the opportunity to nurture her. You know the countless prizes she has received from her JSS1. We feel she is confident and has the potential to be in science. She said convincingly, waiting for an otherwise reply from my dad. My dad had been nodding in agreement to all that she had said, being a witness himself to my abilities and potential.

"Well. Thank you for your concern for my daughter. And I appreciate your efforts in nurturing her potential. I had discussed with my daughter over this matter after her junior WAEC before I traveled. We agreed she would be in the Art class. I was disappointed when I returned during her second term holiday for SS1 to discover that she was in Science. I haven't been home for a long time; the business has been tough for me. But then, I care about the future of my kids, and I know what is best for them. I know my children's hobbies, strengths, and weaknesses; therefore, I am working towards building their strengths and overcoming their weaknesses. My daughter is going to move to Art and study Law at the university". I looked at my dad in disbelief. Have I heard him right? Why Law of all Art courses? I never had a liking for lawyers and never imagined myself being one.

After what seemed like an endless debate between my dad and the principal, she finally gave in and handed a letter to me for Mr. Bello. I thanked her and left, leaving her with my dad to discuss the affairs of the school. I came out and bumped into Bilikisu and victor. At the admin block. They seemed engrossed in whatever they were whispering into each other ears as they stood at the entrance of the building.

"Hey victor, kiss baby what's up," I said as I approached them. They stopped and looked at us.

"You have been avoiding us since yesterday, right after assembly," Bilikisu stated, ignoring my greetings.

"And you have been hanging around with Daniel, and you seem intimate with him. Victor added, sounding jealous, also ignoring my greetings.

"I'm good, thank you," I replied. I was nervous.

"Well, I can't possibly be ignoring you guys," I continued.

"You all are my happiness and consolation in this school. I can't do without you all". I assured them.

They seemed to not agree with me and asked me what was wrong., They knew me too well and knew when I was alright or not.

"My dad is in the principal office requesting that I be switched to Art class," I said calmly.

Their eyes widened in shock at the revelation. They just stared at me, speechless.

"I didn't know how to tell you guys yesterday, I was ashamed, and I didn't want you guys to judge me. I also don't want to also lose you guys". I said with tears in my eyes.

Bilikisu came forward and hugged me tightly without saying a word. Victor joined, and I started to cry.

"You won't lose us, and we will never leave you. No matter what". Bilikisu whispered softly.

"I care about you so much and won't let anything or anyone hurt you," Daniel said. I wondered what he meant by that.

"Alright. Enough of them hugging and bonding, And get back to your classes". It was Mr kunle, the Yoruba teacher. We separated, feeling slightly embarrassed at being seen by one of our teachers.

"You still haven't told us, what is going on between you and the new guy," Bilikisu said, smiling mischievously. Victor looked expectantly at me as if my reply would determine whether he would live or not.

I started to blush and told them nothing was going on between us. Bilikisu knew there was more to it and teased me about it. Till I gave up and said

"Okay, fine, he confessed how he felt about me yesterday, and I told him I felt the same about him. But then I wasn't ready for a relationship yet, that we should just be friends. He accepted," I said, my voice sounding higher than I wanted it to be.

"Then why are you blushing? Talking about it? If there is nothing going on." Bilikisu pressed further.

Bilikisu could be a pest sometimes. She would be the perfect candidate for Law. She knew how to draw the truth out of one's mouth.

"I just remembered the moment he was gently wiping tears out of my eyes with care and affection in his eyes," I said, smiling.

Victor was silent all along, and I could see he was not happy. He excused himself and left us. We wondered what was wrong with him all of a sudden. Was he jealous? Was he angry that I liked Daniel and not him? Does he have feelings for me? I wondered as I followed Bilikisu into the admin block to hand over the letter to Mr. Bello.

After all, was said and done, I was given another written note to give to my class teacher. Mr. Shamsudeen. The crush of all the single female teachers in the school. Once I heard that two of our female teachers fought because of him. I left and met him in the staff room in the same building as my classroom. He was shocked, but then he wished me all the best and Allah's protection as I ventured into this new phase of my life. I thanked him and left.

Since yesterday, I haven't been attending classes as I wasn't sure of where I should be. But then, I wasn't missing out. Arts students were yet to commence classes. I went to inform Daniel of the outcome of my venture when I met Victor at the staircase. I could see hurt and disappointment in his eyes but for what? I couldn't tell.

" Hey, Victor. What's up?

"I'm cool. How bout you?

"I'm okay, I guess," I replied and smiled.

"About earlier, I am sorry for the way I left, leaving you and Bilikisu confused. I just couldn't... He stopped abruptly and stared behind me. I turned and saw that Daniel was watching us. I asked him to go ahead with what he was saying. He refused and promised to see me during a break period. Why was Daniel quietly watching us? Why did victor seem upset at his presence and stop talking? I wondered as I turned to face him, smiling at the good news for him.

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